Rally brings people from all backgrounds together to fight to end racism
A large crowd turned up Saturday to attend an anti-racism rally launched by former University of Lethbridge Pronghorn men's hockey player Evan Wardley.
CALGARY -- A big crowd turned out Saturday, to march from the Multicultural Centre through the city’s downtown to Galt Gardens as part of the One Community, Together peace rally against racism.
Former University of Lethbridge Pronghorn men’s hockey player Evan Wardley organized the rally to coincide with Canadian Multiculturalism Day, with help from various places like the City of Lethbridge, where human resources specialist in diversity and inclusion Tymmarah Mackie assisted.
The goal was to bring together people from different backgrounds to show that while racism remains a problem in Canada, the Lethbridge community is committed to stomping it out.
Wardley, a black hockey player from Vulcan who’s played various levels of hockey in Lethbridge over the years, says it’s about seeing everybody as equal and treating them with respect.
“It’s about looking around and not judging someone just because of how they look or what they’re wearing. You’re accepting them for who they are, and that’s the message I want to stress going forward” Wardley said.
It was the third large-scale demonstration in Lethbridge since the death of George Floyd in the United States, which sparked protests around the globe.
“Racism for sure is an issue in Canada, I don’t think we talk enough about it,” Wardley stated.
“I know for myself growing up I dealt with it, my sister dealt with it, there are so many people here in this community that have dealt with it, but haven’t had a voice or a way to express themselves for so many years.”
Politicians from different levels of government turned out to join the diverse crowd, with MP Rachael Harder, Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips, Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf, and Councillor Mark Campbell all speaking about their support for the movement and moving towards real equality in the country.
Other speeches throughout the rally touched on the fight for that equality and acceptance of one another because as Southern Alberta Ethnic Association President Victor Wutor says, the time has come to stand up.
Breaking down old habits or stereotypes, things like asking ‘where are you from?’ to people of colour, was a specific point Wutor mentioned as something we need to get past.
“If you have a problem and you accept it as a problem, you already have part of the solution. Accepting there is a problem is part of the solution, it gives me joy that people have stepped up to be a part of this so that we can altogether be agents of change in this community,” Wutor said.
The role of the police has been one of the contentious issues in the protests around the globe, but locally, Wardley says Lethbridge Police have been nothing but supportive of the rallies.
“They weren’t able to speak today, [Police Chief] Scott Woods wasn’t available, but he did send me a really nice message to let me know that they will support me through everything,” Wardley added.
While Wardley stressed that the rally was about the community and inclusivity, and not so much himself, he still says that the show of support from so many was a big deal for him
“It means the world to me to know that the community has my back. I’ve lived here now for 10 years, and this is the place that I call home, this is the place that I want to raise my family. So, knowing that the Lethbridge community supports the end of racism is really comforting going forward,” Wardley said.